The Protege project has come a long way since Mark Musen first built the Protege meta-tool for knowledge-based systems in 1987. The original tool was a small application, aimed at building knowledge-acquisition tools for a few specialized programs in medical planning. From this initial tool, the Protege system has evolved into a durable, extensible platform for knowledge-based systems development and research. The current version, Protege-2000, can be run on a variety of platforms, supports customized user-interface extensions, incorporates the Open Knowledge-Base Connectivity (OKBC) knowledge model, interacts with standard storage formats such as relational databases, XML, and RDF, and has been used by hundreds of individuals and research groups. In this paper, we follow the evolution of the Protege project through three distinct re-implementations. We describe our overall methodology, our design decisions, and the lessons we have learned over the duration of the project. We believe that our success is one of infrastructure: Protege is a flexible, well-supported, and robust development environment. Using Protege, developers and domain experts can easily build effective knowledge-based systems, and researchers can explore ideas in a variety of knowledge-based domains.
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